Sunshine Tour

Stone extends Leopard Creek lead

2016-12-03 17:13
Brandon Stone (Gallo Images)

Malelane - Brandon Stone edged closer to a second European Tour title with a fine 66 in the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Saturday to lead by three shots at Leopard Creek Country Club.

The 23-year-old South African moved to 17 under par for the tournament, ahead of compatriots Keith Horne (67) and Charl Schwartzel (68), and England's Chris Hanson (68), who were tied second on 14 under par.

Strone admits he got lucky with his approach shot on 18, but he considered it payback for all the lip-outs he had this week.

He hit his approach to the island green on 18 long, low and left, and it caught the tree above the bunker there, and dropped safe and sound just over the green. He salvaged par, as he had done on a number of occasions during the round, and held on to his lead over four-time Leopard Creek champion Charl Schwartzel, a charging Keith Horne and England’s Chris Hanson.

“I got a really lucky break on the last,” he laughed, “but all those missed putts for the last three days just got cashed in right there," said Stone.

And, despite the slice of luck, and perhaps even some missed putts, his putting under pressure was superb. “Sometimes, the putts you make for par are almost more important than the birdies,” he said.

Stone made a particularly good one on 16, when he watched Schwarztel’s tee shot ricochet off the retaining wall in front of the green on the par-three hole and into the water. “I over-clubbed after I saw that,” he said, “and I had no chance of chipping straight at the pin. So I just had to get it close enough so I had a chance, and it felt really great when it went in.”

He reached the turn in four-under 31 as he watched Schwartzel struggle to get his round going, and that gave him some daylight between himself and the man who seems impossible to beat at Leopard Creek. “I got off to a good start - anytime you hit your approach to a foot is a good start - and got a few birdies early on, which got the round going,” he said.

“I played some good golf the whole day, holed some good putts, hit some good shots. I tried to give myself a lot of opportunities. I hit some really good shots, I must say, and there was some ball-striking out there between Charl and myself that was quite impressive, even if I say so myself.”

Schwartzel showed his mettle after the turn as he set off after Stone who looked as if he could run away with the tournament. “I started hitting some fairways and consequently I was giving myself more birdie chances,” said Schwartzel.

A run of five birdies in six holes was brought to a halt by Schwartzel’s bogey on 16, but it made very clear the level of the challenge Stone can expect when he goes into the final round to try and win the title.

“You know, final rounds are a different kettle of fish,” said Schwarztel. “It really is time to get stuck in there and really grind it out. Brandon’s playing beautiful golf, so I know I’m going to have to bring some good stuff tomorrow.”

Scores:

199 - Brandon Stone 67 66 66
202 - Keith Horne 69 66 67, Chris Hanson 69 65 68, Charl Schwartzel 66 68 68
204 - Benjamin Hebert 70 66 68
205 - David Drysdale 70 71 64
206 - Bryce Easton 70 69 67, Richard Sterne 68 70 68, Pablo Larrazabal 67 70 69
207 - Thomas Detry 69 71 67, Joel Stalter 70 69 68, JC Ritchie 70 69 68, Scott Jamieson 67 71 69, Carlos Pigem 68 69 70, Thomas Aiken 69 67 71, Alexander Bjork 67 69 71, Branden Grace 69 67 71
208 - Sebastian Heisele 70 72 66, Graeme Storm 73 67 68, Ulrich van den Berg 70 70 68
209 - Jake Roos 71 70 68, Max Orrin 67 73 69
210 - Ashley Chesters 72 71 67, Espen Kofstad 70 73 67, Jeff Winther 71 71 68, Erik van Rooyen 71 70 69, Bernd Ritthammer 72 69 69, Michael Hoey 69 71 70, Richard Mcevoy 72 66 72
211 - Tjaart van der Walt 69 72 70, Dean Burmester 68 72 71, Dylan Frittelli 68 71 72, Paul Dunne 66 73 72, George Coetzee 70 65 76
212 - Jean-Paul Strydom 70 72 70, Richard S Johnson 72 69 71, Matthieu Pavon 72 69 71, Justin Harding 68 71 73, Jaco Ahlers 68 70 74, Jean Hugo 67 69 76
213 - Colin Nel 68 75 70, Paul Maddy 74 69 70, Damien Perrier 69 73 71, Madalitso Muthiya 70 71 72
214 - Jamie Rutherford 68 75 71, Keenan Davidse 73 70 71, Neil Schietekat 70 72 72, Jbe' Kruger 71 70 73, Doug McGuigan 70 70 74, Nathan Kimsey 69 69 76
215 - Andrew Curlewis 75 68 72, Gregory Havret 70 73 72, Clement Sordet 73 69 73, Garth Mulroy 69 73 73, Anthony Michael 69 72 74
216 - Vaughn Groenewald 70 73 73, Chris Swanepoel 76 66 74, Pontus Widegren 71 71 74, Hennie du Plessis 73 69 74
217 - Christofer Blomstrand 72 71 74, Simon Griffiths 73 70 74, Jens Fahrbring 70 72 75
218 - Rhys West 70 73 75, Callum Mowat 73 70 75, Morten Orum Madsen 72 70 76, Adrien Saddier 68 74 76, Zander Lombard 74 68 76
221 - Matthew Nixon 71 72 78, Christiaan Bezuidenhout 70 67 84
222 - Peter Karmis 70 71 81
223 - Ockie Strydom 72 71 80
224 - Shaun Norris 71 72 81

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